Best budget microphones for piano??

10 Comments 5 Likes
edited November 22 in Composition and Production

I recently purchased a beautiful Yamaha U1 which I’m dying to get some microphones on to captures. Since I spent my budget on the piano, I’d say I only have about $750 max to get a stereo pair. Any recommendations?

Im currently looking at the Slate ML2 (haven’t seen any examples of these on piano) or the Sontronics STC-1s.

I use the felt mute between the hammers about 70% of the time and love my Olafur Arnalds and Originals Felt Piano library sounds

Thanks in advance!


  • Hi CJ,

    While I have not used the Slate mics, I have used Sontronics gear in the past and it is definitely very good for the price!

    Some other options to consider would be AKG C214 (or the pricier 414 - this model comes with switchable polar patterns, which can be very useful for creative recording!), or, if you can stretch the budget a bit, Neumann KM 184s will definitely do the trick too.

    For a more 'Olafur' style piano, you may also want to look at getting a ribbon mic to complement your stereo pair of condensers. These tend to have a slightly darker top end but are very warm.

  • Thanks @Andrew! I actually ended up purchasing a pair of Warm Audio WA84s. From what I've read, they seem to get 95% of the way there as far as sounding just like the KM84s. Just put them on the piano yesterday and so far I'm really loving the sound.

    I appreciate the tip on getting a ribbon mic to complement the pair. You suggest getting just one and blending the mono signal in?

    Now it's time to perfect the mic positions. And block my windows so I can kill this annoying road noise that's leaking in.

  • The Fathead II with the Lundahl transformer is a great ribbon mic. Also the Beyerdynamic m500 is one of my favorite Ribbon Mics ever, not 100% sure how it'd be on Piano but if you can find one, I'd always recommend grabbing it.

  • Oktava MK012, a stereo pair with cardioid capsules. I have several Slate ML-2, but I must say the Oktavas are the most bang for the buck. Both in terms of getting the right sound, and build quality.

  • @LinusW Super curious what you think of the ML-2s. The only reason I didn’t go for those is because I’m not trying to add to my decision fatigue with all of those modeling options. I’d probably spend more time A/B switching than actually creating. 😂

  • @CJ @LinusW

    I second the Octava mics! They are great value as well.

    I suggested one ribbon mic due to budget restrictions - but obviously stereo would give you more options! I have not personally used the Fathead II or the Beyerdynamic m500 mentioned above. My main go to's for ribbons in the past have been Royer 121, Coles 4038, and I've actually had good success with the Sontronics Sigma (which is a phantom powered ribbon no less!).

  • I can recommend the Lewitt LCT 140 air small diaphragm condenser mic. I purchased a matched pair after an afternoon in my local music shop trying out mics under £ 300 for sampling purposes. Can’t really say if they are the best but I can’t fault their reproduction of piano and string instruments. They retail for around £125 each.